Graham Reid | | 1 min read
In an engagingly monochromatic voice which alludes to the dispassionate indifference of Nico or the battered dignity of recent Marianne Faithfull, singer/guitarist Francisca Griffin – formerly of Flying Nun's Look Blue Go Purple then Cyclops – here delivers her poetic alt.pop against backdrops of dark and driving folkadelics (the gripping opener One Eye Open and Martyn with Ro Rushton-Green's brusque baritone sax, both with the drumming of Gabriel Griffin drilling in), LBGP-pop (In the Woods), downbeat acoustic folk (Ghost Boy with atmospheric backward guitar and staccato effects by Alastair Galbraith) and more.
Magdalena has a confident delivery of mysticism with holy backing vocals (Deirdre Newall) and ethereal piano by Alan Haig, and on Rising Tide there is swirling Farfisa (Mick Elborado).
The musical elements are considered but the focus remains on Griffin's vocals and lyrics.
There are songs of loss and departure here but she ameliorates the emotion with its counterpoint, as on Falling Light which opens “she's not coming back. She's gone into the clouds that surround us all now and then” but then adds “sometimes one good thing is enough to carry you . . .”
Delivered with the kind of weary languor of Lucinda Williams over fellow LBGP's Kath Webster on light jangle guitar it is a real standout. Bones and Lies is wonderfully tough stuff.
Later, on the droning VU-influenced closer (with violin) My Wish, she offers “this thing I wish for you: a luminous life, with just enough strife to show you your luminous life . . .”
My guess is that on a cursory listen most would pass this by. That will be their loss.
These songs, lyrics and settings quietly get their hooks in and reward multiple repeat plays . . . . and the searing Stardust with guitar by Forbes Williams sounds like one of those great lost Flying Nun songs from decades ago but also current and timeless.
Also available on vinyl and CD from Coco Muse here.